How to take responsibility for your life
Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility. Albert Einstein
One thing that really upsets me is when someone lashes out or acts up and then says “I’m sorry … I’ve been really depressed lately.” To me, this is manipulation and it’s insincere which makes it harder for me to forgive the person.
Take some responsibility! You’re in charge of how you treat others! Depression is NO excuse. If you are depressed, start focusing on how you are affecting others around you and act to not disturb others in a negatively geared way. Just because you are feeling crumby, doesn’t mean those around you have to.
Great. So now you feel crumby, you’re frustrated with yourself, you can’t get out of bed AND now you can’t socialise just in case you affect someone else? Well … might as well just dig a hole and lie in it – right? WRONG! Here are some tips on where to go from here.
Cut out the bad guys
If you’re not feeling right and acting up, you will typically find that there are toxic people in your life bringing you down. Maybe one of your friends is a Negative Nancy. Perhaps it’s your lover? These are the people you need to decide that you will do better without. It may be difficult, but the short term pain of evicting these people from your life is well worth the long-term gain. Your current circumstances have evolved from decisions you have made – you decide who is in your life and who isn’t – start here when you start again.
Apologise to the people you have hurt
Now you know who you want in your life – and should have good reason for each of them, apologise openly to anyone in this group of people who you have hurt. Express that it wasn’t your intention to cause them pain, and perhaps you weren’t being yourself at the time (DO NOT blame being depressed!). Once you have sincerely apologised, ask if they can help you make it up to them. If the person makes a reasonable request, then try to act on it.
Start making changes to alter your actions and change the end result for next time. Learn from your mistakes and take the lesson in life with you. According to Joan Didion, “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs”. Starting again is challenging, but concentrate on re-building your self-esteem and self-respect. Learn to trust yourself again so you don’t continue to let yourself down. Look at your life and really consider if things are in line with your values and beliefs. If not, it’s time to cut them loose and make some changes.
It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it. Sophocles
How to take responsibility for your actions
When our actions cause pain to others, it is generally because we have reacted to something which has caused us pain. We are superimposing our circumstances onto other people’s lives as a means of taking control – this is not only unhealthy, but it’s a fast way of losing all the good and positive people from your life.
Reflect what changing your actions will mean to you
Ask yourself what accepting responsibility for your actions/thoughts will mean to you. How frequently do you blame others for your circumstances? Why do you feel like a victim? Once you’ve thought about all of these things, talk to yourself and start accepting that your actions have lead you to this circumstance, but if you change that going forward – your outcome may be much brighter for the future.
Do not give up!
Giving up and staying depressed is such a cop out. Quit using lazy excuses and start living proactively! It takes effort to keep going through tough circumstances, it takes effort to continually evaluate things and strive for the best, and continue to better yourself, and it takes effort to make up for any hurt you have caused, and effort to take responsibility for yourself. If you have got yourself into a rut, there is one thing that is for sure, you will be the best person to get yourself back out of the rut. While you can lean on some people around you for help and to offload – you also need to take responsibility, lean on yourself, trust yourself to make the right choices going forward.
The hardest part, but most important, in taking responsibility for your actions is to forgive yourself for what you have done to lead to your current (undesirable) circumstances. If you can step back from everything, acknowledge that you have made a mistake, and promise yourself that you will do better or try harder the next time around, then really, half your battle is fought.
Take responsibility for your emotions
Don’t blame others for your unhappiness. Take responsibility for the way you feel and act. According to Denis Waitley, “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realisation that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make”.
So to summarise – how do you take responsibility for your life? Easy: make the right decisions. And then for the good news according to Hal Elrod: “The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life, is the moment you can change anything in your life”.
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